Interpret This


Well I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky

                                                —Alexi Murdoch

I was bundled deep inside my purple synthetic filled sleeping bag on the Muir glacier late one night last week; bone weary from the four mile, five thousand foot elevation gain.  The summit team had left at 1:40 in the morning for the peak of Mt. Rainer.  It was cold, but not bitterly so.  I had just prayed for their strength, safety and joyful return when I drifted off to sleep.

Dreams are funny things.  I rarely remember them.  They are so vivid when I first wake up, but within two or three minutes they vanish like phantom thoughts.  I have wondered over the years why God gave us these dreams that slip away so quickly when we wake up.  What is the point?

This dream on the Muir glacier was different.  I don’t remember the images or words that danced in the recesses of my REM mind.  What I remember were the emotions and sensations.  I also remember a sense that God was trying to speak to my soul through this ethereal medium.

It was a two-part dream.  First, I remember feeling as if I were being crushed.  Not painfully so, more like a heavy weight slowly being laid on my body.  Fear came over me so I began to try to fight it and cry out.  But like most of my dreams where I try to cry out, my mouth wouldn’t open so the sound became trapped in my throat.  The harder I tried to push out the cry of alarm the more it became trapped in my chest and throat.  I remember being more frustrated that the sound would not escape me than the concern of the crushing weight.

Then just as quickly as that dream came, it left me and I felt suspended.  I felt as if I were a feather resting on a light air current, easing this way and that in a pendulum sway finally touching a firm surface.  I rested there for a moment and then the crushing weight that had frightened me before came again.  But this time I decided to accept the pressure and the crush of the weight.  I didn’t push back, I didn’t resist, I didn’t try to cry out.  I received the pressure and the crushing.  And it was like the heaviness of that unseeable and unknowable mass passed through my skin and was absorbed into my blood and then further down into my bones and marrow.  When I felt this absorption and integration, I started smiling.  I remember saying to the pressure and the crushing sensation, “You can’t stop me from accepting this and you can’t stop me from smiling!”

I started laughing so loudly that I woke myself up. 

The dream was so vivid and did not flit away with the waking like most dreams that I decided to see if God were trying to send me a message.  So I asked him.  I haven’t really heard any profound interpretation from him. 

Could it mean that I need to stop resisting the inevitable weight of the circumstances of this life?  That release from pressure comes with the accepting of the pressure?  That sounds rather Zen.  Could it mean that I always have a choice in the way I respond to that which I cannot control?  Or could it mean that I shouldn’t pull the draw strings so tightly on my purple sleeping bag so that if feel like a mummy?

Or maybe—just maybe—it means that the Holy Spirit is trying to penetrate my life at the sub-atomic level, but I keep trying to maintain my autonomy and that is why I find life so heavy and frustrating sometimes.  Maybe this is an invitation to deep intimacy.

“Behold, I stand at the door and “press.”  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him…”  —Jesus

I don’t know.  But do know that laughing is better than crying any day or night.




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